Written by: Brian Mack

The tagline used in promoting Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) is “Creating Care-Connected Communities”. From a business perspective, this statement speaks to the company’s commitment to leveraging information technology to tangibly improve the delivery, outcomes, and costs of healthcare. This idea is core to our company culture and identity. As our Executive Director, Doug Dietzman, says regularly “If we are not making healthcare better for patients, then what’s the point?”

Health and healthcare are deeply personal subjects. Every one of us has our own healthcare story, punctuated by interactions and experiences, good AND bad. Those who work in healthcare are no different. Our dual role as both provider and consumer of services makes us acutely aware of the importance and value of high quality care; and no one better recognizes the challenges involved, or the frustrations when the system falls short.

But “Creating Care-Connected Communities” is more than a tagline. We recognize that upholding the community around us is integral to assuring optimal health and quality of life for everyone. Our team members, both corporately and individually, demonstrate this commitment in a variety of ways. Particularly at this time of year, when our collective attention turns toward counting our blessings and showing appreciation for each other, we thought it appropriate to highlight some of the ways that GLHC staff walk the talk and give back to the community…

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This past fall, GLHC Director of Sales and Business Development, George Bosnjak and his wife, Jill, were recognized by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s (GRCF) CURRENT Magazine, for their involvement in the foundation’s “100 New Philanthropists” initiative. For nearly 100 years, the GRCF has been distributing grant dollars across Kent County to “help nonprofits prosper and students succeed.” The 100 New Philanthropists effort seeks to identify and activate the next generation of supporters to usher in a second century of investment in Grand Rapids area. Though George and Jill are both busy with careers and two young daughters, they are active philanthropists—who see giving and being involved as closely connected. In addition to their support for the Community Foundation, George volunteers as the president of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and is the President of the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration Alumni Association at Grand Valley State University. Jill volunteers for Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Hill Child Development Center, Feeding America, and for Relay for Life. “We believe that everyone, no matter how successful, has had help from others,” Jill said. “By giving, we’re providing the help to others that we’ve both experienced,” George continued.

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Greg Cavanaugh (second from right), GLHC Implementation Consultant, is active in several volunteer pursuits in and around Macomb County, including Habitat for Humanity, where he serves on their Finance Committee and as a Build Volunteer.  Macomb County Habitat for Humanity strives to build, repair, educate and revitalize their community to build “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Back in September, Greg enlisted his fellow “East Side” GLHC teammates, Katrina Khouri (second from left), and Bryan Bullock (far right), into helping out with the Habitat “Brush with Kindness” program. The initiative provides qualified homeowners with $2,000 to make critical repairs and improvements to their homes.

Katrina summed up the experience, “I spent the majority of the day cleaning then painting the exterior doors of the house. While I was painting I was able to speak with the homeowner, who is wheelchair bound, and her daughter who told me stories about raising the family in the house.  She’s lived there for over 40 years. I felt good about helping this family in the small way that I did.  After I left and was driving home, I thought about how wonderful it was that I work for a company that encourages us to give back by sharing our time and talent with the community.”

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For the third consecutive year, GLHC Manager of Marketing & Communications, Brian Mack, (pictured far left) was among the Top 3 Fundraisers at the 2016 Grand Rapids Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest private funder of research focused on finding a cure for the disease, and the leading provider of community-based support services for those stricken and their caregivers. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading [disease-related] cause of death in the US. The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place in cities across the country, and is their signature fundraising event.

Brian has volunteered for the Association since 2005, and in 2014 he became the first fundraiser in the history of the organization to receive donations from all 50 states, 8 foreign countries, and all 7 continents (including Antarctica) in a single fundraising year.

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As mentioned above, giving back to the community is also central to GLHC’s corporate culture. This pledge was demonstrated last February when our Board of Director’s committed to investing $250,000 in Flint, MI, following the Flint Water Crisis. These dollars are being used to build up the region’s health IT infrastructure, help in coordinating care, and for monitoring the potentially long-term health effects of those impacted. In addition, GLHC’s “Culture Committee” seeks out opportunities throughout the year for the entire team to work together on projects that benefit the communities we serve. Past projects have included everything from packing sack dinners for Kid’s Food Basket, to removing invasive plants from the shallows of Myers Lake for the Kent County Parks Dept. Beginning in 2017, we’ll be partnering with the Kent County Head Start Program working with Huntington Woods Elementary School in Wyoming, MI.

These few examples just scratch the surface of the many ways that our team members actively give back throughout the year. We applaud ALL their efforts and will include more of their stories in future editions of the GLHC Exchange Blog and The Interface eNewsletter. All of us here at GLHC wish you the blessings of the season and a prosperous new year. We’ll close with a fitting quote from that well known philosopher Charles Dickens, in the words of Jacob Marley:

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